Monday, June 29, 2009

Rapid Rise Derailleur and Suntour Bar-end Shifters

I took a ride with my girls on Saturday morning, as I reported in my post about Juli's crash. This was on my Schwinn Sports Tourer, which I recently upgraded with new derailleurs. The front is a Suntour Superbe, which works pretty much like any other bottom-pull front derailleur. And the rear is a recent Shimano XT rear derailleur in rapid-rise guise. "Rapid Rise" is Shimanoese for "at rest, the derailleur wants to be in the lowest gear, not the highest".

So what did I learn in my first real ride, so equipped:

  1. The combination of Suntour barcons and a rapid rise derailleur works just fine. I need to take a little slack out of the cable (I can feel when the cable goes slack near the lowest gear), but that doesn't affect operation.
  2. The shifters have plenty of travel to support the 6-speed freewheel on there, which means they'd be fine with a 7-speed freewheel or cassette, too (both have 126 mm spacing). I haven't tried (but could) a 130 mm-8/9/10 speed road wheel to see how that works. Maybe over the winter, on my rollers.
  3. The derailleur works really well. All new Shimano stuff seems to, of course, but it's absolutely transparent in the shifting department.
  4. The derailleur feels heavy. No, not on the bike, in the hand. Weight weenies won't want one, but they wouldn't be looking at a MTB derailleur anyway, I suppose.
  5. I probably need to lube the shifters a bit because they're growing a little stiff. No fault of the derailleur, there.
  6. The reorientation is confusing as hell, especially since I'm trying to coach my daughters through upshifting and downshifting with their conventional rear derailleurs while I'm shifting my own drivetrain at the same time, the opposite way. Given the coaching and shifting and making sure Juli is using road smarts, I'd rather not have one more thing on my mind.
  7. The derailleur has plenty of capacity for my 13-32 rear cluster and my 39/52 chainrings. No more excess noise from interference between the biggest cog and the guide pulley, as with the last derailleur.

In hindsight, I should have just gotten a regular XT or LX derailleur. But my curiosity is now satisfied, and that's worth something. And for now at least, the inconvenience of remembering which way to move the lever is not so great that I'll be swapping the derailleur again.

We'll see if it ends up on my list for the off-season, though...

All for now,


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